BACKGROUND:

Gavage feeding is required in preterm infants who cannot feed by themselves. Insertion of the feeding tube is painful, and reducing the discomfort in these patients is desirable.

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this study was to assess pain and discomfort during nasal insertion of a feeding tube, and to evaluate different measures for pain relief.

METHODS:

We included 24 preterm infants with postmenstrual age 28 to 32 weeks' who were in stable condition. Each infant acted as his or her own control over a 3-week period during which the tube was changed 6 times. On these occasions, 6 different treatment combinations were given in randomized order: pacifier or no pacifier, combined with no fluid, sterile water, or 30% sucrose. Pain and discomfort were assessed by at least 2 independent and experienced observers using a pain assessment tool, the Premature Infant Pain Profile; score range: 0 to 21. In general, scores of 4 to 6 are interpreted as normal or no discomfort; ≥12 usually signals significant pain and distress.

RESULTS:

The median Premature Infant Pain Profile score during the procedure was 9 and decreased gradually toward 4 after 5 minutes. The lowest pain score was achieved by combining a pacifier with oral sucrose. Sterile water without a pacifier gave the highest score.

CONCLUSIONS:

Insertion of a feeding tube in preterm infants leads to a measurable degree of pain and discomfort, according to the Premature Infant Pain Profile assessment tool. Pain relief was best achieved by combining a pacifier with 30% sucrose.

You do not currently have access to this content.